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Tipsheet

Democrats Double Down on Blocking Keystone XL Pipeline

AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

President Joe Biden created concerns over energy independence on his first day in office when he signed an executive order canceling the Keystone XL Pipeline. Now, as gas prices have reached record-highs, with no sign there'll be relief any time soon, the White House continues to double down on resistance to allow the pipeline, and it's a move congressional Democrats are adhering to. 

On Wednesday evening, 219 Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives blocked consideration of the American Energy Independence from Russia Act (H.R. 6858) offered by Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX). 

As outlined by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's office, the bill would promote American energy independence as it:

  • Immediately approves the Keystone XL pipeline 
  • Removes all restrictions on liquified natural gas (LNG) exports
  • Restarts oil and gas leasing on federal lands and waters – which was halted by the Biden administration
  • Protects American energy and mineral development from attacks by the Biden administration
  • Requires Biden to submit an energy security plan within 30 days and requires the Secretary of Energy to develop a plan to replace oil drawn down from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve

During his floor remarks, Rep. Crenshaw called out the Biden administration's reliance on foreign oil.

"This week our President – the American President - asked Venezuela and Saudi Arabia to increase oil production. Asked them to boost their outputs so that American consumers wouldn’t see a sharp increase in gas prices. Seems like a noble cause, at first glance. But I couldn’t help but think to myself, what a strange thing to ask. Surely he knows that we can also boost domestic production, right here at home," the congressman said.

 "Surely he knows that domestic Production supports American jobs, and surely he knows that domestic production is cleaner, by far, than foreign production. Far better for the environment than Venezuela, unless the socialist dictator in Venezuela suddenly became a devout green energy disciple without any of us knowing it. Must have missed that one," he continued. 

Crenshaw touched upon banning Russian oil imports as well. "And we are all left thinking the same thought – wouldn’t it better if it was America supplying Europe its energy? Wouldn’t it be better if Europe wasn’t held hostage to the whims of a dictator? Wouldn’t it be better if we didn’t have to wonder where that extra oil would come from after we rightfully ban Russian imports?"

"Well, most of us are thinking that, of course - unfortunately those in the majority, those in power, are not. It's time they start," he challenged the Democrats to doing.

Yet this is consistent with the White House's narrative. 

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki has engaged in a back-and-forth for some time now with Fox News White House Correspondent Peter Doocy about the pipeline, with Katie highlighting the most recent exchanges on Monday and Wednesday

In addition to being dismissive, Psaki's response does not answer the question of American energy independence, which is the goal here. 

Last week, Robert Rapier published a piece in Forbes, "Why Approving Keystone XL Was A No-Brainer." In it, he makes it clear that he shares the Biden administration's concerns for climate change, but he "calculated that in the worst case, a completed Keystone XL could increase annual global carbon emissions by 0.07% by 2030," which he goes on to note "is effectively zero." 

His key point, though, is the problems arising out of canceling the pipeline, as he tells readers to "think about what canceling Keystone XL actually does. It reduces the supply available." 

Rapier also lays out scenarios about the pipeline and, in doing so, explains that "Building could have helped alleviate dependence on overseas oil if that dependence still existed upon completion. Not building it could increase dependence on foreign oil." 

"Ultimately, canceling Keystone XL was about sending a message. But when you weigh the actual impact versus the political impact that many got from the message, it was just the wrong decision to cancel it," Rapier wrote under the header of how "It Was Also a Political Mistake" to cancel the pipeline. 

During their Monday exchange, Psaki and Doocy also discussed dependency on foreign oil, as Psaki's response entailed a dismissiveness about dependency on foreign oil: 

MS. PSAKI:  But if we’re looking to the future and what — how — what we can do to prevent this from being a challenge in future crises, the best thing we can do is reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and foreign oil, because that will help us have a reliable source of energy so that we’re not worried about gas prices going up because of the whims of a foreign dictator.

Q: Right.  And you guys think that asking Saudi Arabia or Venezuela or Iran is reducing our dependence on foreign oil?

MS. PSAKI:  That’s actually — I just outlined each of those specific scenarios and the range of discussions that we’re having with each of those countries.  I don’t think anybody is advocating for Iran to continue acquiring a nuclear weapon, perhaps except for the former president who pulled us out of the deal.

As Katie has covered, the United States has excused reliance on foreign oil, including from hostile powers, while not digging into our own reserves. 

When it comes to Psaki's snide remarks about former President Donald Trump, there's another foreign policy concern brewing when it comes to the Iran nuclear deal and the United States re-entering the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Despite its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, Russia is playing a role in the negotiations as well. 

President Joe Biden has been dismissive of the American people's concerns. 

After his Air Force One arrival on Tuesday, Biden was asked, "Do you have a message for the American people on gas prices?" to which he responded, "They're going to go up." When he was asked, "What can you do about it?" he responded with quite the memorable line of "can't do much right now. Russia is responsible." 

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